The Tennessee Transparency Project has joined open government advocates throughout the nation during Sunshine Week as we highlight the importance of government transparency.
Tennessee Transparency Project opinion column, written by Director Jim Zachary, is included in the Sunshine Week Toolkit located at http://www.sunshineweek.org
The Tennessee Transparency Project opinion column from the Toolkit:
TRANSPARENCY — NOT REPUBLICAN — NOT DEMOCRAT
Openness in government is not a liberal, conservative, republican, democrat, independent, TEA party or libertarian issue. The importance of transparency in local, state and federal government should transcend parties and political ideologies. Checks and balances provide few checks and little balance when officials broker deals behind closed doors and conceal documents that contain important information that citizens have the right, and often the need, to know. Local government has the biggest impact in the lives of citizens on a day to day basis. Whether it is in the form of property taxes, sales taxes, personal property taxes, business taxes, state-shared dollars or federal grants, loans and funding, local government is 100 percent taxpayer funded. The decisions being made, the monies being spent and the records being kept by city hall, the county commission, the board of education or the utility district all belong to liberals, conservatives, republicans, democrats, independents, TEA party volunteers, libertarians and even politically disinterested individuals. All stakeholders have a stake in open meetings and public records and should care about transparency issues. Bipartisanship is like the weather — everyone talks about it, but no one does anything about it. The difference is while a person can’t change the weather, officials could choose to work together. The lack of and need for true government transparency should be truly be a bipartisan cause. Any elected officials who truly care about public service in a real and meaningful way and fully understand what a representative form of government is all about, should not only champion openness in government, but should be the most effective watchdogs, looking out for the public trust. Sadly, those kinds of elected officials are hard to find. We encourage those officials who do care and who do understand to become a part of the transparency project and enhance their public service.
Jim Zachary, Director
Tennessee Transparency Project
Sunshine Week 2014 begins Sunday, March 16.
The Transparency Project encourages all open government advocates, newspapers, watchdog groups and public officials who believe in the importance of government transparency to join us in highlighting this week long effort.
The American Society of News Editors and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press are encouraging open government advocates throughout the nation to join them in celebrating the importance of open government. The campaign begins Sunday, March 16, and concludes Saturday, March 22.
There are dozens of Sunshine Week events hosted by various organizations around the country. The 16th annual National Freedom of Information Day at the Newseum and the Chicago Headline Club’s FOIA Fest are Friday, March 14. The D.C. Open Government Summittakes place next Wednesday, March 19. Other events include Seventh Annual FOI Day Celebration, Sunshine Week 2014 Celebration at the Department of Justice, Unlocking Government Data,Threats to Transparency: Problems with Money in Politics, and other events listed at sunshineweek.org.
According to ASNE, Sunshine Week 2014 is made possible by an endowment from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and donations from Bloomberg and the Gridiron Club and Foundation.
Watchdog groups, newspapers and individuals are encouraged to take part and can find a “Toolkit” at the Sunshine Week website that includes free editorial cartoons and opinion columns to be used during the week of March 16-22.